Photo; Jenna Robinson

Photo; Jenna Robinson

Human beings have a deep desire to feel connected to themselves, others and the natural world. I love Brené Brown's work.  As a well-respected sociologist, she has coalesced the underpinnings of human connection by finding vulnerability as its source. For me this explains not only human connection but a great deal about the adventure experience and what we get out of it.

The idea is that we must be vulnerable in order to be rewarded with a sense of connection. Brené's research centres around connection between two humans. I extrapolate from there to add that;  it explains for me why adventure is so important in connecting to place and that we need to be vulnerable with ourselves to fully move into self-knowledge and owning our experience of being human.

Being vulnerable on the landscape connects us to it. The fact that there are bears on the western Canadian landscape makes traveling in this terrain all the more rich. While traveling in my mountains I am aware of bear habitat, signs, and protecting myself with how I manage food, sleeping and travel, all of which nurture the richness of my connection to place. The risk helps keep me be present, seeing and feeling the landscape in ways I never would without the risk. Direct encounters with bears and their power, magnifies my connection to place. I remember, each encounter I have had, and where I have had it. Rock and ice climbs that push me, do the same. Because of these encounters, the mountains are my home.

Physical vulnerability is difficult. Social vulnerability is orders of magnitude more so because we risk living, labelled. It takes great courage for men in particular to share their humanity. Social vulnerability for men flies in the face of our cultural construct of what it is to be a man. Brené shared a story about a male individual who said to her; "My wife and daughter would rather see me die than fall off my white horse." Men are asked to always be strong and show no sign of weakness. It would seem that women want men who are emotionally available and open, yet the social construct dictates that men stay on that white horse. Vulnerability is strength chiefly through the courage it demands to execute. We all need to have the courage to be human, to have emotion, to share our fears in order to transcend and be wholehearted, if only to fully know ourselves.